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2016 Summer Olympics: Chinese Athletes to Watch in Water Sports

Yahoo Contributor Network

China's athletes left the 2012 Summer Olympic Games with 88 medals-including 38 golds-for second place in both categories behind the U.S.

Following on the heels of China's leading gold-medal count of 51 in 2008, this bodes well for the country's chances to be at or near the top of the Olympic medal standings for the foreseeable future.

In fact, China will undoubtedly continue to relentlessly push its athletes to wrest the top spot from the U.S. four years from now at the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The list below includes five Chinese Olympians in water sports who should be back in 2016 to challenge for gold:

Sun Yang: At age 20, Sun has become the most dominant men's swimmer in the world in the 400 and 1500-meter freestyles. He took gold in London in both events. His time in the 400 meters was an Olympic record, and he bested top rival Park Tae-hwan of South Korea in the process. In the 1500 meters, Sun shattered his existing world record, while cruising to an eight-second victory over his nearest competitor.

Ye Shiwen: A very impressive talent at a mere 16 years of age, Ye swam to eye-opening victories in the 200 and 400-meter individual medleys-setting an Olympic record in the former and blazing to a world-record time in the latter. Some observers made accusations of doping after Ye's performances, but others simply pointed out her growth to maturity over the past couple of years.

Chen Ruolin: One of China's many diving stars, the 19-year-old Chen has already put together an enviable list of accomplishments. She won the individual 10-meter platform golds in 2008 and 2012, and worked with partners Wang Xin and Wang Hao respectively to secure back-to-back 10-meter platform synchronized titles.

Cao Yuan: Entering what should be the best years of his career, Cao earned the 10-meter platform synchronized gold in London with compatriot Zhang Yanquan. Look for Cao to be a gold-medal favorite in both the individual and synchronized platform events in 2016.

Xiu Bo: Qiu was the favorite for gold in London in the men's 10-meter platform after taking two golds at the 2011 World Championships. However, he was upstaged by American David Boudia, who captured the first diving gold for the U.S. since 2000. Bo has plenty of time at age 19 and more than enough motivation to look for redemption in 2016.

Related content: Olympic Flashback: A Look at China's Diving Dominance

Patrick Hattman covered the London Games for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is already looking forward to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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